Prepare your documents before an emergency
The nature of disaster and crises means they can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Store your documents ahead of time using digital or physical storage solutions.
Why keep documents safe
Everyone in NSW has a role and responsibility in making sure we are prepared.
Preparing your documents before an emergency situation can give you peace of mind, ensure you have access to essential information and help you avoid more stress when you have to leave your home.
Steps to store your documents
There are many options when it comes to safeguarding your documents. You can choose one or more to make sure your documents are safe and can be accessed when you need them.
Pick options that work best for you.
Follow the below steps to keep your documents safe.
Choose which documents you will need
The documents you might need depends on your situation. Think about identity documents for yourself and family members. Do you own a property? Do you have a list of medications you will need to take?
Physical document storage options
In preparing for an emergency, it can also be helpful to gather your most important documents and keep them all in one place.
Ideally, these should be kept in a waterproof folder or fireproof safe to prevent them getting damaged if you need evacuate. Adding a folder to your emergency grab bag or survival bag can make leaving easier. The Rural Fire Service has a comprehensive list of other things to include in your grab bag: Emergency Survival Kit
You can also consider using:
- a safety deposit box,
- a PO box, or
- leaving your documents with someone you trust if you know an emergency is coming.
Note: There are some instances where you need to show original documents. In these cases, it’s best to know where your documents are.
Creating a digital back-up
Storing copies of your documents digitally can help to ensure that they are protected and secure. Cloud storage allows you to access documents from anywhere with an internet connection, using any device. This can be especially helpful during an emergency evacuation if you need to flee quickly.
There are many digital options you can choose to store your documents. Choose the product or products that work best for you.
It is important to think about cyber security. If you can, add multifactor authentication, a strong password or encryption to your data to keep your documents safe online.
Let your family or close friend know where you have stored your documents in case you can’t access them.
Digital storage options
The Service NSW App allows you to store digital versions of licences and credentials including your Driver’s Licence, Working with Children Check, and RSA/RSG.
You can also access a digital copy of your Medicare card through the Express Plus Medicare app.
There are many cloud storage options available. Make sure to consider your specific cybersecurity and privacy requirements when choosing which product to use.
These services offer a secure and reliable way to store and access your documents from anywhere. These services also offer mobile apps that allow you to access your documents on-the-go, including offline. This can be especially helpful during an emergency evacuation when you may not have access to a computer or the internet.
It's important to protect your digital documents with a strong password to prevent unauthorised access. Make sure to choose a strong password and avoid sharing it with anyone.
Merge and compress PDFs and other files to reduce the storage space needed.
USB or portable storage device
Scanning your documents and uploading them onto a USB or portable hard drive ahead of time means you can have all your documents in a safe place. You can also add a strong password so your documents are secure.
Placing your USB in your grab bag or emergency kit means you can leave quickly with all your important documents. The Rural Fire Service has a comprehensive list of other things to include in your grab bag: Emergency Survival Kit
Secure documents in a flashdrive as well a backup for cloud. You can store your documents in more than one place.
Documents to consider when preparing to leave
The documents you should consider will vary depending on your individual circumstances and needs. The below list provides examples of common documents that you may need.
Family and identification documents
- Birth and adoption certificates – this includes all household members
- Marriage certificate
- Your child’s blue book
- Child support information
- Visas and Immigration documents
- Emergency contacts
- Pet microchip numbers
TipIf you have children or animals, it’s important to consider their documents too.
Financial and property documents
- Land titles, mortgage or lease
- Insurance documents
- Car or vehicle registration
- Educational records (e.g. certificates, transcripts)
- Court orders
- Protection orders and documents
- Police records
- Health records
- Pension cards
- Documents to help you access payments